05/06/2003 11:37 AM ET
Larkin back from the disabled list
Freel optioned to Triple-A Louisville to make room
CINCINNATI -- Shortstop Barry Larkin was reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday after he worked out extensively prior to Monday's series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. To make room for Larkin on the roster, the Reds optioned infielder Ryan Freel to Triple-A Louisville.
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Larkin, 39, strained his left calf April 10 in Houston and has not played since.
Larkin was activated after manager Bob Boone and the team's medical staff evaluated Larkin's condition. The veteran shortstop took batting, fielding and baserunning practice and performed agility drills Monday.
"I have no real 'crampiness' or acute pain in the sore spot," Larkin said following his Monday workout. "Just general soreness. So, nothing's alarming ... All in all, I feel good."
Reitsma OK: Chris Reitsma threw so effectively in the bullpen before Monday's game that Boone made him available to pitch in an emergency, adding that the right-hander would "for sure" be eligible to relieve Tuesday.
Reitsma's 30-pitch workout marked the first time he had thrown off a mound since incurring biceps tendinitis after his start last Tuesday in Colorado. He played long-distance catch gingerly Sunday in his only other post-injury throwing experience.
Though Reitsma admitted that he threw erratically, the absence of discomfort buoyed his spirits. "It feels like I haven't thrown off the mound for a week, but there's no shooting pain like I had before," he said.
Reitsma, who returned to Cincinnati upon suffering his injury, has no idea how he hurt his arm. "I don't know what to tell you, except after the second or third inning, I couldn't feel my release point too well," he recalled. "After the game, it was really tough to pick up my arm. The next day, forget about it."
Hammer strength: In clubhouses around the Majors, pitchers can be found performing exercises specially designed to nurture their throwing arms. Some look more unusual than others. Jeff Austin's is among them.
"I get a lot of comments about it," said Austin (1-1), who starts Tuesday night against St. Louis.
Austin performs multiple sets of daily flexing drills with something that looks like a hammer. Actually, it's three-pound dumbbell bound to one end of an axe handle. Austin grips the wooden end of the handle and bends his arm and wrist many different ways.
"It's preventative elbow strengthening," said Austin, explaining that a case of tendinitis in 1999 which put him on the disabled list for the only time in his career motivated him to begin this routine. He developed his own contraption two or three years ago while playing for Triple-A Omaha in Kansas City's system because the team's trainers forgot their version of the device too often.
"It (my elbow) hasn't hurt since," Austin said.
Tuneup for Haynes: If right-hander Jimmy Haynes can fight off his nagging cold as well as he overcame back pain, he'll make an injury rehabilitation start Thursday for Louisville against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
However, Haynes' tuneup could get delayed if he's still sniffling. "It would be Thursday if it were just (a matter of) the arm," Boone said after Haynes threw a pregame bullpen session Monday. "He looks pain-free."
Said Haynes, who was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back after going 0-4 with 12.74 ERA in his first four starts, "If I could just get rid of my cold, I'll be ready to go."
Branyan's back: The Reds returned infielder-outfielder Russell Branyan from his injury rehabilitation assignment in Triple-A so he can intensify the process of strengthening his shoulder with assistant trainer Lonnie Soloff.
Boone said that Branyan's progress will be judged after a week. The Reds' options at that point would include activating Branyan or sending him back to Louisville for another rehab stint.
Hitting is not a problem for Branyan, who underwent arthroscopic surgery last Dec. 3 to repair a torn labrum. He batted .341 in 12 games with Louisville. But his injury allowed him to play only five games in the field -- three games in left field and two at first base. Before he's activated, the Reds want to make sure he can make long, quick throws, including ones he would have to attempt from third base.
"I can't throw with 100 percent effort, especially if I haven't made a throw for an hour during the game and then the fifth or sixth inning rolls around and I have to make a good, strong throw," Branyan said. "But I think it's getting close."
Quick pitches: Jose Guillen's first-inning RBI double lengthened his hitting streak to a club-high 10 games. Guillen also matched a personal best which he reached Aug. 4-13, 2000 with Tampa Bay. ... Shortstop Felipe Lopez's second-inning misplay of Tino Martinez's grounder gave the Reds at least one error in 10 of their last 11 games. They've played errorless ball in six of 32 games this year.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.